the Summer Solstice
What is Litha?
Litha, or the summer solstice is the longest day of the year. The "Lord" (or the male aspect of deity) is at his peak. I find it terribly amusing that the American culture has picked May to celebrate Mother's Day, and June to celebrate Father's Day - and they don't even realize that they are celebrating Beltane and Litha! One wonders if there wasn't a closet pagan working at Hallmark.
In the Celtic calendar, Litha marks the peak of summer, or mid-summer. In our scientific, four-season calendar of the West, the summer solstice marks the beginning of summer. From this day forth, the days will be getting shorter.
Litha marks the birth of the Holly King, just as Yule marks the birth of the Oak King. The Holly King will rise to power at the fall equinox (Mabon), when we enter the dark half of the year. But today is the day to celebrate the Lord, as represented by the Sun.
The girls of Bohemia made flower wreaths to celebrate the solstice. Here is a wreath that you can make.
You will need:
A bundle of tall grass or reeds
Small plant clippers
- Pick summer weeds, herbs, and flowers, and clip thier stems to 4 or 5 inches (10 or 13 cm) in length. Hang the flowers together in a bunch, stems side up, in a dark, dry place for several weeks.
- Also gather enough long stems of grass or reeds to make a bundle a few inches (about 8 cm) across. Allow the grass or reeds to dry for a week.
- Soak the bundle of grass or reeds in the bathtub for about an hour. Drain.
- Tie the reeds or grass together in a circle with the string. Twist a piece of ribbon around the wreath in a candy cane or barber pole pattern. Loop the end of the ribbon around itself and tie.
- Weave the dried flowers and plants into the wreath by tucking them into the ribbon. Trim extra plant material if necessary. Hang the wreath on a door or wall.
I have a couple of project ideas for your pagan child. They all relate to the sun and the solar cycle. This is the time to also celebrate male energy; you can tie-in Father's day kinds of things (i.e. have your children make things for their father, or for The Father, consort to the Goddess); and things typically associated with male (yang) energy (which can also manifest in a female body - believe me! I speak from experience). Contests of physical strength and prowess; running, climbing, swimming, throwing and catching balls, hitting balls with sticks (which basically sums up all sports known to man).
Things to do for Litha
- On Midsummer's Eve (the night before):
- After sunset, look for fairies. (They will appear to the uninformed as fire flies)
- Have a bonfire while observing ALL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS!
- Tell stories 'round the fire
- At dawn, watch the sun rise
Toddler/Preschool project: Suns
Your toddler can make suns from construction paper, or paint them or draw them with crayons (or if they need some help, you can draw the sun outlines and they can color them in).
School-Age child project: "Aztec Sun"
Background: This project is also known as "Eye of God" and was what I called them until today (I figured, let's give them a more pagan name) I loved making these things as a child, and continued well into high school. I believe these originated in Mexico, and that they represent the Sun, and also bring good luck. They are very easy to make, and are very beautiful. After we make ours, I'll post some pictures (but unfortunately, I don't have any right now).
What you need
- 2 sticks. These need to be straight. The length determines how big the final project will be. 2 unsharpened pencils work quite nicely. I have also used 2 popsicle sticks. If you use sticks dropped from trees, make sure they are straight.
- Yarn in many colors. I can't give you lengths, but this is a very good way to use short lengths of yarn left over from other projects.
How to make an Aztec Sun
- Tie an end of yarn on one of the sticks towards the middle.
- Cross the 2 sticks. Make sure there is a 90 degree angle.
Adjust the yarn to be as close to the crossing point as possible.
- Wrap the yarn around the crossed sticks in an "over/under" pattern:
Loop the yarn around each stick, alternating the way the loop goes. This way there is no front or back to the Aztec Sun when you are finished.
- When you want to change colors of yarn, tie the new length of yarn to the end of the old one. Hide the knot near a loop around one of the sticks.
- Continue until the Sun is the desired size.
- You can also hang tassles on the ends for additional decorations.